Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chlorine vs. Bromine in Pools and Spas

Water-recreation facilities are a real boon to any athletic club. From providing a hot, relaxing soak after a workout to enabling competition-level training, pools and spas round out the options at your favorite gym. While the use and enjoyment of these facilities should be easy and care-free, there are several aspects to the maintenance and operation of a pool or spa that are critical to bather health and wellness. The purpose of this article is to address the importance of sanitizer in the water, and to discuss the differences between the two most commonly used sanitizers, chlorine and bromine.

Sanitizer, for the purposes of pool and spa chemistry, is any chemical that kills or inactivates germs, viruses and bacteria in the water. Proper maintenance of sanitizer levels is how you avoid catching the cold that the other person in the spa with you has. Chlorine and bromine belong to a class of chemicals called halogens, which work by forming acids in the water that attack and kill microscopic water-borne organisms. As the sanitizers do their work, they become gradually less effective, necessitating the constant renewal of their levels in the pool or spa water. As the water undergoes this cycle of sanitization and renewal, there are some differences between the way chlorine and bromine interact with the water chemistry.

While the chemical reactions can be fairly complex, the end result is simple: properly maintained, sanitizer in a pool or spa creates a hygienic bathing environment. For the user of a water-recreation facility, there are very few noticeable differences between chlorine and bromine. One of the biggest differences is odor. As chlorine becomes “dirty” by binding to contaminants and organisms, it produces the distinctive chlorine smell that many people associate with public pools. Contrary to intuition, being able to smell the chlorine is not an indication that a pool is highly sanitized; in fact it is a good sign that the levels may need adjustment. A properly maintained chlorine-sanitized pool will have little to no chlorine smell, as the form of chlorine that does the work has no odor.

Bromine, on the other hand, has very little odor even when “dirty,” this is one reason why it is often preferred for spas, where the concentrations of contaminants can be much higher. What odor bromine does have, however, is much harder to shower off. Bromine is also more complicated to use, requiring additional chemical processes to maintain its effectiveness. For this reason, it is more costly to operate and maintain a bromine-sanitized pool or spa.

Most frequent users of water-recreation facilities have experienced a rash at some point after bathing, particularly individuals that use a number of differently maintained facilities. This has led many bathers to speculate upon possible chlorine/bromine allergies or reactions. The truth is that, while some individuals are especially sensitive to chemical irritants, actual allergies to halogens are extremely rare. The vast majority of rashes that develop after use of a pool or spa are a skin condition called folliculitus, caused by a variety of Psudomonas bacteria. This results from improper maintenance of sanitizer levels in the water, and the particular type of sanitizer used has no bearing on whether a rash develops. If you should ever develop a skin condition after using a pool or spa, notify the facility’s operator.

At the Seattle Athletic Club, we use chlorine exclusively to sanitize our pool and spas. The primary reason that we use this method is simplicity: with fewer chemical reactions to undergo and less equipment to fail, it is comparatively easy to ensure that safe sanitizer levels are maintained at all times.

While there is more risk of developing a noticeable odor with chlorine, we feel that the advantages over bromine outweigh this potential pitfall. Additionally, as mentioned above, chlorine does not produce much smell when the levels are maintained correctly, and the daily attention paid to our pool and spas by the Facilities staff is more than adequate to prevent a buildup of the “dirty,” smelly type of chlorine.

In summary, selection of a sanitizer is a choice that must take into account many factors, not all of which are detailed in this article. The end result for the bather should be the same regardless of which chemical is used: a safe, hygienic bathing experience. The real key to a clean, odor-free pool is diligent attention by trained, certified and knowledgeable staff.

Written by Matt Wolff, NSPF C.P.O.
Facilities Director, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Into Running with a Balanced Body

As spring approaches, we get excited about enjoying outdoor activities here in the Pacific Northwest, including running. It’s easy! Just grab a pair of running shoes and head out the door! But have you ever jumped into a running regime, only to find yourself nursing an injury a few weeks or months down the road? Whether you are new to running or training for yet another marathon, look for ways to cross-train for a balanced body so you can enjoy running all season long.

Most runners know that it is critical to have a strong core, back, hips, and pelvic muscles, but what is the best way to achieve that? One option for this cross training is Pilates. Pilates is a series of exercises given to you by an instructor who learns your weaknesses and tight areas, and then develops a program based on those needs of stretching and strengthening.

I’ve noticed that runners are generally good at Pilates; they seem to know how to engage their gluteals (bottom muscles) and are aware of their core/abdominals. However, runners also tend to have tight quadriceps (thighs) and hip flexors, as well as weak hamstrings (back of legs) and inner thighs. These imbalances in the muscles of the legs and hips can potentially cause pain and injury for runners, especially the knee, hip, ankle and foot.

Pilates helps to balance things out in the legs by strengthening the hamstrings, inner thighs, and gluteals to take pressure off the front and side of the leg, leading to better alignment and less chance of injury. Plus the hip, abdominal and back strengthening exercises help to maintain better stability and alignment through the entire body while running.

The best way to learn what your body specifically needs is to meet with a Pilates Instructor one-on-one. But, in the meantime, some at-home exercises you could start today include the following:

1) The Hundred
2) The Abdominal Series of five
Single leg stretch
Double leg stretch
Single straight leg stretch
Double straight leg stretch
3) The Swimming

A balanced body will result in better performance, quicker recovery, and less chance of injury so you can enjoy running all season long.

Written by Danielle Zack
Pilates Director, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why Indoor Cycling?

Indoor cycling is an excellent way of supplementing your outdoor rides and a great discipline we rely on for focused exercise. You might choose this activity when the weather is bad, class times are at a premium, sheer convenience, monitoring performance, or need an uninterrupted specific workout.

Cycling outdoors is great and if you get the chance, you should get out there! You get the fresh air and beautiful Seattle scenery, what could be better? But in order to have the beautiful Seattle scenery, we endure many months of rain and cold so getting your outdoor rides in can often be more challenging and sometimes more miserable than they are worth. Then there is the other extreme, the stationary cycle. Again another excellent form of exercise but do you ever find yourself pedaling along and wondering if you are working hard enough?

Indoor cycling classes are a great compliment to your outdoor rides and stationary biking. What makes them different? The visual imagery and technique provided by the instructors. Motivational music to help push you up the “hill” or to finish hard on a sprint. The camaraderie of a group who is working fluidly with the common challenge and drills that an instructor throws at them. Cycling classes are structured so that riders can elevate their fitness levels to new heights. Whether you are looking for higher intensities, building your endurance, cycling classes have also been proven to increase cruising speeds if you are an avid outdoor cyclist. And don’t forget about how many calories you can burn. A 150 pound individual can burn on average 630 calories in a single fifty minute class!

Yes the cycling classes can look intimidating because of the large class size, “regulars” who opt to use their own cycling shoes and the sheer sweatiness of riders afterward. First off, you don’t need special shoes to take the class, but they do help if in the end you find the classes to be enjoyable. All you need is your workout clothes, tennis shoes, a water bottle and towel. The nice thing about taking a cycling class is that if you feel like you are about to hit the wall, simply bring down the level you are working at. Take an extra rest rather than doing the last sprint. Your fitness level might not be at its highest when you first start, but you can always build it up by taking it slow and listening to your body.

When you do decide to venture into the cycling room, be sure to get there a few minutes early so you can ask the instructor to help you set up your bike. Proper set up makes a big difference for your experience in the class and also helps you from injuring to yourself.

Written by Dana Hansen
Fitness Director, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Prepare for Outdoor Activities Indoors!

As the weather begins to brighten up and the anticipation of spring and summer outdoor activities is upon us, get a head start on your fitness inside. By preparing your body for outdoor activities now, you will reap the benefits later. Imagine the first time you take a seat on your outdoor bike, or when you are gearing up for that first hike in the fresh air and your body is already conditioned and ready for the workout. Not only will you have a better workout, but you will have a safer workout. For example, many of our hard core, regular cyclists prepare for outdoor rides by attending any of our cycling classes here at Seattle Athletic Club. By maintaining condition throughout the winter months, the transition is much smoother.

Start by thinking about the activities you typically participate in when the weather is nice and sunny. For some of us, the activities include a broad range such as water skiing, sand volleyball, rollerblading or hiking to name a few. With such a range I recommend you attend classes that give you an all-over body workout to build strength and condition. These classes could include, but are not limited to, Sports Conditioning, Power Sculpt, BODYPUMP and Yoga. By training your entire body, you ensure your muscles have the strength and the balance to pursue these activities. Keep in mind when you initially participate in certain outdoor activities you may still use muscles that have not been trained inside and you should be prepared to feel some soreness. However, you will still be ahead of the game if you maintain your fitness indoors.

Whatever outdoor activity you decide to participate in, make this summer even better than last by preparing now!

Written by Anna Miller
Group Exercise Director, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Friday, March 19, 2010

Yoga: Triangle Pose

Triangle Pose, or Utthita Trikonasana in Sanskrit the language of Yoga, is a classic pose. Almost every style of yoga has some version of this intense hip and inner thigh stretcher and strengthener pose. If you practice Triangle regularly, it will strengthen the thighs, ankles and adductors (inner thighs). It will stretch the groin, hips, hamstrings and chest and strengthen the side waist. Any forward bend will aid in relaxation from stress and relieves anxiety.

How it's done:
1. Step to a wide legged straddle on your mat where your feet are about 3 1/2 feet apart and you feel stable.

2. For your first side, turn your left foot forward to the top of the mat and angle right foot out about 90 degrees.

3. Lift your arms about shoulder height, keep your chest open and side waist strong
as you slowly reach your left hand down to your shin. If you feel your chest and shoulders collapsing or are still developing core strength, grab a block and set your left fist on it.

4. Stay in the pose for at least 10 breaths, come out by bending your left knee to support your back to come up, switch sides.

5. The best way to learn new poses or if you have questions, please visit one of our many yoga classes, or sign up for a Yoga Private at Seattle Athletic Club Downtown.

Written by Tonja Renee Hall
Yoga Instructor, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Swimming 101 is for Everyone

Members are quickly learning that the Swimming 101 class offered on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 pm may be not only one of the best resources offered at the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown, but also one of the best deals. Drop-ins of all skill levels are welcome to this weekly, year-round class taught by 10 year SAC veteran, Kate Sehulster.

In it’s nascence, the class was designed as a beginner class for those who were not advanced enough, were no longer swim-fit, or just didn’t feel comfortable jumping right into the 3000 yard swim conditioning classes challenging enough for some of the Northwest’s top triathletes and nationally ranked Masters swimmers.

The Swimming 101 class was immediately popular, though typically not exceeding 6-7 swimmers. The small class size allows the instructor to dedicate the ideal amount of attention to each swimmer. The class initially drew only beginner swimmers—some not able to swim whatsoever, as well as those who had taken a substantial hiatus from swimming as a sport. Many aspiring triathletes join the class as they discover that although they are in fantastic running and cycling shape, that fitness just doesn’t translate into the water. The class also welcomed a surprising number of members who were recovering from injuries and were sent in by their physical therapists for the low-impact workout that swimming provides.

Each swimmer, both beginner and advanced, gets in the water with their own specific set of challenges, both mental and physical. Instructor Kate Sehulster draws upon her 25 years of swim and coaching experience to find an approach to coaching that is tailored to each individual. That tailoring includes designing custom drills and employing visualization exercises. It didn’t take long before more advanced swimmers realized they could work virtually one-on-one with a technique specialist to fine-tune their stroke, get workout advice and leave with custom drill “homework” to incorporate into their routine.

The class is ever changing with new swimmers joining and others moving on as they achieve the fitness level and stroke quality appropriate for the more advanced swim conditioning classes, or they have met their personal goals—which for some was simply to be able to swim well enough not to drown if they fell off their boat.

Every week there are familiar faces and at least one or two new ones, but there is always an inspiring mix of personalities and experience. New swimmers are encouraged by more advanced swimmers who often give advice or share their own experience. Triathletes return to share their stories and triumphs. Individuals of all levels make breakthroughs in their stroke or beat their personal best times, all of which serve to inspire and motivate fellow swimmers and instructor alike.

Written by Kate Sehulster
Swimming Instructor, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Monday, March 15, 2010

National Nutrition Month: Take Time to Evaluate Your Diet

National Nutrition Month is a time to reflect on your personal food habits, think about ways to improve your diet, think about what you are doing well and how you could make some adjustments towards healthier choices. Although the field of nutrition is a constantly changing science, some principles for healthy eating have remained the same for years: balance, variety and portion control. While these three concepts may seem too simple to guide your food choices, think about what your diet would look like if you ate a wide variety of foods, didn’t overdo on any one food group or food item, added in activity daily so that your body is in energy balance (ie. Calories in= calories out), and chose portions that made your body feel energized, not sluggish after a meal. Sometimes the most simple concepts can offer a powerful combination when put into action.

In addition to the general guidelines of balance, variety and portion control, try incorporating these three ideas into your meal planning for 2010:

Grow: Include more foods that grow in the ground in your everyday diet. This means fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Go to the produce section first at the grocery store; plan salads, soups, and stir-fry’s on your menu; pack a piece of fruit in your briefcase or purse; go to a local farmer’s market or start your own garden at home with a few simple edible items.

Know: Educate yourself about what you are putting into your body. Look at the food labels of packaged foods. How many ingredients are on the label that you have never heard of, or can’t pronounce? Does the bag of potato chips say: potatoes, salt and oil? Or are there many more ingredients listed? The more often we choose whole, simple foods, the more we can maximize the nutrients we consume each day and minimize the “other stuff.”

Slow: In our fast paced lives of instant messaging and instant information, we get accustomed to moving 60 miles a minute and tend to carry that speed over to how we approach food: order quickly, ready-in-a-minute foods, eat in the car, grab and go snacks. People who take the time to sit down, chew, and take a few slow, calm breaths before eating, tend to eat less and enjoy the eating experience more. Our bodies take about 15-20 minutes to send a message from the stomach to the brain that we are full. If you have ever had that over-stuffed feeling after a meal, you likely didn’t allow enough time for this signal to travel to your brain before eating more. Try having a family meal at least a couple times a week. Involve your whole household in the process; your children will not only feel like they have contributed to the family but will feel more invested in the meal, and thus, may be more inclined to enjoy the food. Sitting down with family and friends for a meal not only helps improve your diet, but also offers the important bonus of connecting and conversing with those you close to you.

Now is the right time to put these ideas into action! Changing habits takes time so try making one change each month instead of expecting yourself to implement all of these ideas at once. One change a month translates into 12 healthier habits over the year.

Written by Karen D Woo, MS, RD
Nutritionist, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Learning to Love Lap Swimming

When I was a child I went out for swim team, after about four laps the coach stopped me. “I don’t think you are going to be able to do this,” He said. (No cushy sensitive coaching techniques back then.)

Looking back I can understand why the coach had concern—after those four laps I was completely winded. Most of the other kids around me were calmly swimming length after length, back and forth, over and over again like a giant multiple player pong game. No heavy panting, no choking on water. I was nearly hyperventilating.

It hit me hard what my coach had said. I was always a stubborn child and I had two weeks before the season started, to prove him wrong. I showed up everyday to practice and boy did I practice. I practiced slowing down, and learning how to breathe, I asked for advice from some of the older swimmers and even a lifeguard. I built up my ability slowly and conditioned myself through proper breathing.

The trick was to slow down and begin with one-lap victories. Even as a kid I knew I would not be the fastest or strongest swimmer right away. First I just wanted to be able to swim laps with the team. Swimming laps well isn’t about fast kicks and strong arms and getting to the side as fast as you can. Swimming laps well is first about coordinating your breathing. (Try with kickboard if you need to) While your face is in slowly breathe out all your air (bubbles). Then lift your head or turn to side, whichever you are comfortable with and take a breath in. Put your face back in the water, hold your breath for a second and then repeat. Do your best to not stand up or stop kicking until you reach the next wall. It helps to remember to stay calm. When a runner goes for a jog he/she does things to regulate breathing. As a swimmer, remember to do the same thing.

Once you can coordinate your breathing, you will be able to build distance stamina. Speed and ability comes later. Be sure to pace yourself because your goal is to get to the end of the lap and not be winded. Not being winded has everything to do with how you are breathing and blowing—do both calmly and you will get enough air. Then your next goal will be to do two laps and not be winded. And then three laps and not be winded. Getting good at swimming laps is a slow building process. Now I am a swim coach and I tell others what they need to do to be able to swim. You have to start somewhere.

Written by Shawndelle Jones
Swimming Instructor, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sports Conditioning to Gain a Competitive Edge

Today all elite athletes are well aware of the importance of cross training to boost performance in their particular sport. As we saw and heard during the 2010 Olympic Games, just practicing your sport isn’t enough anymore. Athletes need to build a strong fitness base in the gym.

Enter the world of general sports conditioning. Increasingly sports training programs are becoming more generalized rather than highly specific because of the similarities found in all sports. An intense fitness base can be built in the gym following the same sequence of working on stability and mobility first, then strength and power. I will talk about each element here and the importance of a functional movement screen as a measuring tool.

It is important to begin with a functional movement screen which will test mobility and stability and give an idea of how strong an individuals functional foundation is. Many people build fitness on a poor foundation, hindering performance and thus increasing the chance of injury. Stability is the ability of a joint to remain static against an external force while mobility is the ability for that joint to move through a range of motion. Both are very important for sports. Gray Cook, a physical therapist and trainer, has designed five exercises to test functional movement. He also recommends learning and performing the turkish get-up with a kettlebell to test functional movement and build greater mobility and stability.

Strength is the ability to move a weight through a particular range of motion. Speed is not important here but will be when we come to power. Mike Boyle, a top expert in the sports conditioning arena, highly recommends training on one leg for sports. The reason being is that athletes perform almost every movement in a split stance, or by pushing off from one leg in a parallel stance. Applying this principle, athletes can reap huge rewards by learning a perfect full range single leg squat with their own body weight or even adding extra weight to build strength.

Power is the element that will be most individualized based on the particular sport. However power is also the phase that most people jump ahead to without working on the previous three phases. Using the afore mentioned example as a reference, once you have mastered the single leg squat you will want to add a jump on the top of it to add the component of speed. This type of combination is great for a sprinter since they are jumping off of one leg during a sprint, but a skier may want to jump off of two legs since that is more specific to his or her sport. Pavel Tsatsouline, a world renowned kettlebell expert, has stressed the importance of creating power in the hinging movement which occurs at the hips. Especially the ability to extend the hips powerfully from a flexed position. This movement transfers directly to sports requiring running, jumping and throwing. Nothing trains this better than the kettlebell swing.

These are just some examples from the experts that athletes are using in their training sessions at the gym. Building a general fitness base in these categories is key, along with practicing the particular sport, for top performance. Many of the exercises mentioned above are highly advanced and difficult to perform without proper conditioning. Be sure to contact a fitness professional to learn the proper way to start conditioning for your sport and learn these exercises.

Written by Paul Nelson
Personal Fitness Trainer, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

Friday, March 5, 2010

Becoming a Good Squash Player

To become a good squash player, having some speed, agility, and coordination is certainly a great place to start. After that, developing a simple repeatable swing that is powerful enough, consistent enough, and accurate enough to get the ball into the back corners from any of the other corners is the most important aspect of the game. Like tennis, length is the most important shot.

The second most important shot is volleying (hitting the ball before it bounces). The serve return often requires a volley, and it is invaluable in controlling the “T” and keeping the ball from dying in the back corners.

Other shots to learn are the drop (to attack the front corners), the lob (to get out of trouble and buy time to recover position), and the boast (hitting the side or back wall first). The boast is used both to attack the front corners and to retrieve a ball dying in the back corner.

Another big part of becoming a good squash player is learning the movement, footwork, and positioning. Getting to the ball quickly and efficiently, arriving in position to execute an effective shot, and recovering to the “T” before your opponent reaches the ball are critical factors in playing winning squash.

Lastly, use your head. It is not just important to hit a good shot, but to select the right shot.

Your local Squash Professional should be able to help you learn these skills and put you on the path to becoming a good (if not great) squash player.

Written by Bruce Vinsonhaler
Squash Pro, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why Should a Person Assess and Reassess Their Fitness Level?

Many new and experienced members at a gym want to get active and fit; but most of them don’t know where to start. A simple answer is to examine where your current fitness level is, in order to define a starting point. The three parts of fitness are strength/resistance training, cardiovascular fitness and nutrition. So it would make sense to do some testing of your current fitness level in those areas, as well as attaining baseline measurements of your body composition.

When looking at your weight training fitness level there are a couple exercises that are used to assess your strength level. Most strength assessments test your larger muscle groups; such as bench press, leg press, shoulder press, and core strength. Even if you can’t bench a car, you should get your baseline strength measurement in your larger muscle groups so that you know where you started at.

Your cardiovascular fitness level represents how well you function doing aerobic exercises. This can be measured by doing a couple easy tests such as a VO2 sub maximal test, allowing you to see how well your body transports and uses the oxygen during exercise. There are numerous ways to test your V02 max; the most accurate is to participate in a treadmill V02 max test which digitally calculates your oxygen exchange rate as well as calories burned during exercise, although very beneficial, this test must be performed by a fitness professional and requires extra equipment. One test that is simple enough to perform on your own is the 12 min walk/run test. The 12 min walk/run test is a field test designed to measure the distance traveled over 12 minutes of running/walking. After the distance is recorded, you can use this number as a baseline to compare to, or further, you can estimate your V02 max by using a simple mathematical formula to determine where your cardiovascular fitness compares to collected normative data of those within your age and gender bracket.

Having strength and good cardio fitness is great, but if your diet does not compliment your exercise, you will find yourself spinning your wheels and going nowhere. Nutrition is a large part in becoming more fit and seeing the results of that. The easiest way to assess your diet is to see a nutritionist and fill out a food journal. This way your nutritionist can assess what you might need to modify in your daily diet. Another helpful tool is to figure out what your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) is. When you know what your RMR is, you will know how many calories YOUR body needs to function throughout the day. Some people’s RMR may be under the recommended 2000 kcal/day; meaning that if they eat the recommended 2000 kcal, they would be taking in extra calories, causing them to gain weight. On the other hand, if your RMR is over the recommended 2000 kcal, you might find yourself malnourished, making it hard to get a good workout in and stay healthy.

Finally, when looking to assess one’s baseline physical fitness and body, it is important to get complete body composition measurements. This is a quick and painless procedure that involves taking girth, body weight, and skin fold measurements to determine where your body fat percentage lies. Lastly to conclude your baseline measurements, it is wise to take a “before” picture. Taking these measurements usually scare people away because they don’t like see where they are, but that’s the reason they are starting a workout routine, they want to get better. There is no better way to help your self-confidence or hold you accountable than to physically and numerically see where you are, or where you came from.

Once you have found your starting point in all of the three areas of fitness assessed, along with your baseline body measurements (with a picture) written down, you can now start your workout regimen, whether that is through ActivTrax, with a personal fitness trainer, or workout buddy. You should attempt to re-measure every 3 months to see any progress you have made. These new measurements are important, not only to see the improvements your have made but so that you can keep changing your routines and diet as well. As you lose weight your calorie intake will change in addition to changes in your body measurements and strength. It is common for people to plateau in weight loss, which at many times can be discouraging, it is imperative to not obsess over this number. Many times people find that when reassessed, they may not see the number on the scale change but when measurements are taken they have lost body fat and inches all over their body.

Written by Jacob Galloway
Fitness Director, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Guide to Choosing Swimwear for Competitive and Fitness Swimmers

The world of swimwear fashion advice and swimwear tips has largely left serious swimmers to their own devices when choosing a swim suit. While the appearance of a swimsuit may not be as compelling an issue in competitive swimwear as it is in fashion swimwear, its fit and functionality are the most important.

Swimwear Shopping - What to Look For
Competitive swimsuits can run upwards of several hundred dollars, based upon the brand name and model of the swimwear. While this figure may be out of the price range of some swimmers, it is still important for every serious swimmer to purchase a quality piece of swimwear. Competitive swimwear is designed for different reasons and purposes than fashion swimwear, and these differences should be evident in the design and fabric of the swimsuit. Here are some general tips for selecting the best quality swimsuit product for your money.

1) Swimwear Brand Names
Swimwear brand names may be more important than you think. The fact that brands such as Speedo and Jantzen have stayed on the market for several decades testifies to the quality of the swimwear they produce. However, newer brands like Tyr Swimwear have made a serious entry into the market. Before purchasing a swimsuit, be sure to do a little research on the brand you are leaning toward. Read some information about the company and see what past customers have had to say about the swimwear. A little consumer research can go a long way toward ensuring a quality, long-lasting swimsuit.

2) Swimwear Function
Keep in mind the reason you are buying the swimsuit when browsing through stores. If you are selecting swimwear for casual lap swimming, speed facilitation may be less of a factor for you than swimsuit longevity. You may be able to cut some costs by looking at brand-name swimwear designed without the latest innovations. If speed facilitation is your major requirement, be sure to compare brands and research product claims before purchasing. The advertising claims of the swimwear manufacturer may be more fancy words and big names than actual swimwear innovations.

3) Swimwear Sources
Do not assume that you need to buy brand-name swimsuits from a high-end sports store or directly from the manufacturer. Many second-run fashion stores carry brand-name swimwear that did not sell initially due to unpopular cut or color. If swimwear functionality and longevity are more important to you than appearance, these stores may provide better, more cost-effective swimsuit options for you.

4) Swimwear Materials
Pay attention to swimwear fabric. Purchasing an expensive, brand-name swimsuit and quickly losing it to chlorine degradation and fraying would be very unfortunate! Well-made competitive swimwear should contain high quality materials and competitive workout swimwear should be treated for chlorine resistance. While no treatment can result in complete chlorine resistance, some sort of chlorine treatment can greatly lengthen the swimwear's life. If you are unsure of the chlorine resistance of a particular swimsuit, feel free to ask the salesperson or call the manufacturer regarding this important concern.

Written by Elsie Chan
Swim Instructor, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown